Originally Posted by Abigail
It's been a long time, good to hear from you! How have you been?
Thanks for your explanation. It makes perfect sense in as far as it goes - indeed, a person should exhibit both mercy and justice, and in the fullness of Scripture we find Christ teaching both. But I still do not know what Jesus actually said on that one occasion. When you suggest that Matthew and Luke "placed emphasis at different points" it sounds like you are suggesting that Jesus really said both "be perfect" and "be kind" in the same sentence, something like this:
Be ye therefore perfect and merciful, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect and merciful. So now we find ourselves forced to attempt a speculative reconstruction of what Jesus really said - and when we do this the first thing we admit is that we don't really know what Jesus really said. This problem is greatly exacerbated when we try to extend it to other parallel passages. The attempted reconstructions quickly become unbelievable. The Gospels often differ in the specific words and when similar words are used they are often presented in different orders and the records of the same events are presented in different orders too. Therefore, if we know anything, we know that we do not have a literal historical record of what Jesus actually said and did. Furthermore, we know that this is a divine fact that the Author of Scripture intended for us to understand and accept since He presented it so plainly in His Holy Scripture.
Folks have struggled for centuries to "resolve" the "apparent" contradictions in Scripture so they could assert that the Bible is a literal historical record of the words and deeds of Jesus. But in doing this, they have denied the very essence of their assertion that the Bible was inspired by God. If we accept the Bible as the truly inspired Word of God, then we must receive it as God intended and conclude that it does not present a completely literal historical account of the words and deeds of Jesus. It does not even tell us what He really said!
This is highest view of Scripture - it is a view that does not attempt to force the Bible to fit our human concepts of what the "Word of God" should be, but rather accepts what God has revealed as it is. To repeat what I said in the OP: Questions like this have vexed believers since the beginning because they felt that they had "nothing" if not a literal historical record of Christ in the Gospels. The revelation of the Bible Wheel helps free us from this limitation. We know that the Bible is of God, so now we can receive it as such and admit that the pieces do need to fit into human categories like "literal historical narrative" in order to be true and inspired by God.
I would be very interested to dig deeper with you into these questions and their implications.
All the best,